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Espresso, the Story

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We are very excited about the Jura Z6, our new state-of-the-art espresso machine, and, in inspiration, we would like to share the story of espresso and how it came to be: basically, the Jura Z6’s raison d’être.

Italians were drinking coffee two and a half centuries before espresso appeared.  Coffee had been brought by North Africans who during the Renaissance had traveled to Italy through the port of Venice.  The 1640s were when the first coffee houses had appeared in Italy, and Venetian merchants charged high prices to wealthy patrons to try this magical and mystical drink.

Fast-forward to the early 20th century, and espresso first shows its face in Italy.  But, first, before we share more about the history—what is espresso?  The world of coffee can be complex, so we’ve decided to give a quick introductory lesson on exactly what espresso is, first starting with how it’s made.  And then, the history.

What Is Espresso?

Espresso is coffee formed by pressing almost boiling water through coffee beans that are finely ground.  It has a consistency that’s thicker than coffee, and which has a chocolatey foam called crema on top.  Crema is a foam with a creamy consistency.  Espresso is the base for drinks like caffe latte, café mocha, cappuccino, and caffe Americano.

One misconception is that espresso has more caffeine than coffee, but, because the drink is served in a smaller cup, it contains slightly less caffeine than a cup of coffee. Generally, the amount of caffeine in espresso versus coffee is 120 to 170 mg of caffeine for espresso, to 150 to 200 mg of caffeine for an average cup of coffee.

How Is Espresso Made?

Espresso is made when near-boiling water is pressed through ground coffee beans at a very high pressure.  It’s generally made using an espresso machine, and the ground beans are tamped down so that water penetrates the grounds evenly.  The solid and dissolved portions are extracted from this process, creating a syrupy consistency.  While no regulated standard exists for making espresso, general guidelines do exist for temperature, water pressure, rate of extraction, and amount of ground coffee.

The word used to name making a shot of espresso is called “pulling a shot,” since the process takes its origins from espresso machines with levers that pulled to make espresso.  1st in Coffee offers the high quality Jura Z6 for superb shots of espresso.

The Italian Espresso National Institute has a number of parameters to make “certified” Italian espresso:

Parameter Value
Portion of ground coffee 7 ± 0.5 g (0.25 ± 0.02 oz.)
Exit temperature of water from unit 88 ± 2 °C (190 ± 4 °F)
Temperature in cup 67 ± 3 °C (153 ± 5 °F)
Entry water pressure 9 ± 1 bar (131 ± 15 psi)
Percolation time 25 ± 5 seconds
Volume in cup (including crema) 25 ± 2.5 ml (0.85 ± 0.08 US fl. oz.)

When Did Espresso Become Popular?

Espresso has experienced a rise in popularity since the 1980s.  Many cafes and coffee shops now serve many versions of espresso by adding whipped cream, syrup, extracts, soy milk, and spices to the drinks.  With a machine such as the Jura Z6, you can also enjoy espresso at home.

While a person can drink a single or double shot of espresso, it is also used as a base for other drinks.  The benefit of having an espresso machine at home or in a place of work is that you can create drinks exactly how you want.  Steam the milk yourself, and pull the shots.  You have more of a selection.  Learn more about our state-of-the-art Jura Z6 espresso machine here.

What Is the History Behind Espresso?

Steam punk might be popular now, but the style takes its inspiration from the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, where steam power was all the rage.  So, when Angelo Morindo registered an Italian parent for a steam-driven drink making device—an early version of an espresso machine—it was a big step in the direction of quick service espresso.  A number of innovations were made to this machine in 1901 by Luigi Bezzera, who registered many improvements.

In Italy, espresso became associated with urbanization, and local authorities were responsible for setting coffee prices.  During the late and early 20th centuries, espresso bars became more common and became known as places for socializing.   In the English-speaking world, espresso became popular through the latte, which used foam (crema) and became an exotic new drink that had been created in the 1950s, started by the Italian American Lino Meiorin, who was the Owner of Caffe Mediterraneum in Berkeley, California.

The popularization of espresso can be credited with the Italian diaspora, which brought the culture of coffee along with them as they immigrated to the United States.  Also, as specialty coffee became more and more popular in the United States in the 1980s, espresso experienced more interest in the U.S.

We believe that espresso is here to stay.  For possibly the best espresso in the world, try the Jura Z6 espresso machine.  The Jura Z6 uses state-of-the-art technology with the trademarked Pulse Extraction Process.  The machine has automatic filter detection, and, for drinks using milk, it can finish your drink off with milk or foam at the touch of a button.

Next time you take a sip, it can be filled not only with quality and class, but with an understanding of the roots of one of the world’s most popular beverages.

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